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Two towers to bolster city’s office market

The plans are a major shot in the arm for the city centre enterprise zone, and will aim to attract investment in the professional services sector

An early representation of what the Lumina Building might look like
An early representation of what the Lumina Building might look like

Birmingham’s office market took two leaps forward in a week with plans lodged for a new landmark complex while another has been given the green light.

Proposals to build a new 15-storey block on Snow Hill Queensway, a scheme known as Lumina, have been submitted to Birmingham City Council.

The plans are a major shot in the arm for the city centre enterprise zone, and will aim to attract investment in the professional services sector.

Meanwhile, separate proposals for a 13-storey office block a short walk away have been given the go-ahead by council planners. Developer West Register will demolish the ugly 1980s Peat House in Livery Street, next to Snow Hill station, and build a £40 million tower block.

The Lumina plans would also see an unattractive and derelict row of shops known as The Strip knocked down for the tower built on behalf of M&G Real Estate.

The scheme includes a new pedestrian link around the building, between West Midlands Police headquarters at Lloyd House and the Holiday Inn, to Weaman Street.

James Howarth, from Sterling Property Ventures, the company behind the Lumina plans, said: “As part of Birmingham City Council’s enterprise zone, this site is one of the city’s key areas for transformation.

“Our proposals for the development of this site would replace a current eyesore with a high quality frontage to Snow Hill Queensway and achieve a critical mass of commercial development in one of the Big City Plan’s priority locations.”

Lumina would deliver 240,000 sq ft of much needed grade A office space in the city centre, as well as a small amount of basement car parking.

The planning process has been led by Birmingham-based GW Planning and if the tower gets the go-ahead works could start in a matter of weeks. John Fyfield, development director at M&G, said: “These proposals see another piece of the jigsaw in the development of the Snow Hill area, providing high class office accommodation capable of delivery into a market which has seen little recent development activity.”

Meanwhile, proposals for Peat House were welcomed, despite concerns from English Heritage that the building would dominate the historic Old Contemptibles pub near by.

But the council’s planning committee decided that as long as the building is of a high quality design it will improve, rather than spoil, the area.

It approved the principle of a tower on the site and now architects must come up with detailed designs.

Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood), chairman of the council’s own conservation and heritage panel, said that the existing Peat House was so poorly designed it was the ‘reverse of good feng shui’ and said the panel did not object to its demolition. “The building is so ugly no one wants to refurbish it,” he added.

And he said the panel was satisfied that a tower could be built on the site. “There is no reason why it shouldn’t be 13 storeys as long as it is elegant and well designed.”

The plans will also see restaurants or shops on the ground floor.

The scheme has won the support of Birmingham’s business community which claims the city otherwise faces a shortage of top quality office space by 2016.

 
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